Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Jeffrey Dorfman Visits Susquehanna

On Thursday, as part of the Liberty and Economic Freedom Speaker Series, we had Dr. Jeffrey Dorfman visit campus.  His talk, "How the well-meaning government hurts the poor" was supurb.  I was pleased that about 250-275 people showed up in Degenstein Theatre to see him talk: approximately 10% of the student body was there!

The biggest thing I learned was about the magnitude of the disincentives faced by the working poor to gain raises or promotions.  At one point in the talk, he described the incentives faced by a single mom.  If she earns under $29,000, she will receive many extra government benefits.  But once she hits $29,000, she starts losing so much in benefits that she won't have the same level of after-tax income/benefits until she earns $69,000!  That is terrible policy and gives the working poor an incentive to NOT seek promotions or acquire additional human capital.

One main problem is all of the different government agencies have their rules on when benefits get phased out, but most are in the same income range.  I left the talk somewhat depressed, as the easy solution for this would be to abolish all the welfare programs and replace them with cash payments.  The political likelihood of that happening soon, however, is next to zero.

Monday, September 26, 2016

My Newest Publication: Using Experimental Auctions to Examine Demand for E-cigarettes

Here is the link to my newest publication, "Using Experimental Auctions to Examine Demand for E-cigarettes", in Nicotine and Tobacco Research

Background: E-cigarettes are the latest in a line of potentially reduced exposure products that have garnered interest among smokers.
Methods: In this paper, we use experimental auctions to estimate smokers’ demand for e-cigarettes and to assess the impact of advertisements on willingness-to-pay. These are actual auctions, with winners and losers, which means hypothetical biases often seen in surveys are minimized.
Implications: Given these reduced harm products are appealing, if smokers are able to switch completely to e-cigarettes, there is a good chance for accrual of significant harm reduction.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Upside of Inequality

The Upside of Inequality is the title of Ed Conard's newest book, which was released today.

Disclaimer: I had the pleasure of helping Ed by doing a bit of background research for him.  

I am certainly a bit biased, as I helped on the book, but I think this is one of the best books of 2016.  And I don't think my bias is coloring my view too much, as before I helped on this book I was a big fan of his previous book, Unintended Consequences, and had even assigned it in my Political Economic Thought class.  

Some of my favorite parts of this book are:

* The section asking if the middle class really is being hollowed out.  The answer is a convincing no - comparisons that show median incomes are falling are skewed by lower paying jobs acquired by immigrants.  
* The section examining how much money a poor person receives in government benefits.  It is a surprisingly difficult question to answer, but this book gives a good estimate with a defensible methodology.
* The discussion of income mobility - which is alive and well in the USA.

The entire book is thought provoking, and I highly recommend it.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Podcast with Bloomberg

I recorded a podcast with Bloomberg last week about using Hamilton to teach economics.  The link is here.

Friday, August 12, 2016

2016-2017 Liberty and Economic Freedom Speaker Series

The Liberty and Economic Freedom Speaker Series is continuing! In 2016-2017 we will be bringing three speakers to campus. This is the third year of the series and promises to be educational and fun. (See here and here for information on the previous two years).

Our speakers are:

Jeffrey Dorfman

How the 'well-meaning' government hurts the poor

Thursday, October 6th, 2016. 7:30 PM. Degenstein Theatre

Dr. Jeffrey Dorfman is an economist and professor at The University of Georgia, where he has been since 1989. He teaches classes in microeconomic theory, the economics of the food industry, and macroeconomic theory and policy. He performs research mostly on productivity measurement, economic forecasting, and the economics of growth and sprawl. He has authored three books, over seventy academic journal articles, and a variety of other articles published in trade publications, the popular press, and on the web. He writes regular opinion columns for RealClearMarkets.com and Forbes. In 2013, he was elected as a Fellow by the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association. He has testified to the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, to the Georgia Senate Special Committee on Feedgrains, and to a USDA Panel on Farmland Preservation. He served as editor of the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, the top academic outlet for his field, from 2009-2012. He is a consultant to a variety of businesses, foundations, and local governments with past and current clients including Sprint, the American Farmland Trust, Pennington Seed, Fulton County Schools, and numerous city and county governments in the Southeastern U.S. He is married, with one daughter, and they attend Central Presbyterian Church where he serves as treasurer.

Abdullah Al-Bahrani

Econ Beats: Discovering Economics in TV, Music, and Other Media

Monday, March 6th, 2017. 7:30 PM. Degenstein Theatre

(Note: Date/location is new.)

Dr. Abdullah Al Bahrani is the Director of the Center of Economic Education (NKU CEE) and an Assistant Professor of Economics at Northern Kentucky University. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Kentucky in 2010. His Master degree in Economic Theory was awarded by American University in Washington D.C. in 2003 and he earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Economics from the University of Louisville in 2002.

Currently, Abdullah's primary focus is on innovative approaches to teaching Economics. He also examines market structure and competition in the banking and real estate industries. His research has been published in the Southern Economic Journal, Journal of Economic Education, International Review of Economics Education, and the Journal of Housing Research.

In 2016 he received the Excellence in Teaching and Instruction award at Northern Kentucky University. He is also the recipient of the Dean’s Citation for Teaching at the Haile/U.S Bank College of Business in 2015. At the University of Kentucky, while working on his graduate degree, he was awarded Most Outstanding Teaching Assistant in Economics at Gatton College of Business and Economics, University of Kentucky.

Prior to joining academia, Dr. Al Bahrani worked in the mortgage industry from 2003-2006. He has also served as outside economic consult to the Ministry of Education, Sultanate of Oman and new business ventures entering Oman.

Joe Calhoun

Consumer Protection and Other Economic Fallacies

Monday, April 10th, 2017. 7:30 PM. Isaacs Auditorium

Joseph P. Calhoun is a Lecturer in the Department of Economics and the Assistant Director of the Stavros Center for the Advancement of Free Enterprise and Economic Education at Florida State University. He currently teaches large principles of economics classes with annual enrollment of nearly 3,000 students. To enhance student learning and manage multiple large sections, he is a heavy user of technology both in and outside the classroom. He is also well known around campus for showing video clips to illustrate concepts and inject humorous breaks. In addition to leading workshops for the Stavros Center, he has presented teaching ideas and technology at several national conferences. He is also responsible for training and mentoring new graduate student teaching assistants for their initial teaching responsibilities at FSU.

A graduate of Illinois State University with a BS in finance and economics and of DePaul University with an MBA, he began his career in the health care industry before leaving to become an economist. His Ph.D. is from the University of Georgia.

Dr. Calhoun has received numerous teaching awards including the Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award at the University of Georgia, the Undergraduate Teaching Award at FSU, and three times received the Service Excellence Award for Teaching from Phi Eta Sigma at FSU. He also won first place in the Economics Communicators Contest in 2008 which was cosponsored by the Association of Private Enterprise Education and Market Based Management Institute. He currently resides in Tallahassee, FL with his wife and four daughters.